Zolder DTM: Rast grabs points lead with Saturday win

Audi driver Rene Rast took over the DTM championship lead from Nico Muller after cruising to victory in the opening race at Zolder.

At the start of the race, Rast pulled away cleanly from pole position to lead into Turn 1, with qualifying star Ferdinand Habsburg retaining second position ahead of Robin Frijns.

There was chaos in the middle of the pack as Harrison Newey tagged Muller after overtaking him into Turn 2, unsettling the Abt Audi driver and dropping him down to 14th place in the 16-car field.

A safety car was deployed soon after to retrieve debris from track, but the race went back to green on lap 3, with Rast leading the field from Habsburg and Frijns.

While Rast managed to build a one-second lead out front, Frijns slowly started closing in on Habsburg and was able to crucially make a move on the WRT Audi driver at Turn 5 before they both dived into the pits on lap 11.

Rast stopped a lap later and returned on track with an extended advantage of two seconds, but soon found his lead coming under threat from a charging Frijns, who brought the gap down to 0.5s.

However, on lap 20, Frijns missed the apex at Turn 2 and lost momentum going into the long straight after Turn 4, giving Rast the breathing space he needed to stay in the lead.

Frijns closed the gap back under 1.5s seconds on the final lap, but that proved to be too late to prevent Rast from claiming the title lead with his third successive victory at Zolder.

Behind the leading duo, Habsburg delivered a first podium for Audi customer WRT after successfully fending off the top BMW of Jonathan Aberdein in the latter stages of the race.

After his coming-together with Newey on lap 1, Muller jumped back to 12th at the restart before gaining further positions by stopping early on lap 5. The Swiss driver had recovered to sixth place by the time the pitstops were settled, but he couldn’t clear the WRT of Fabio Scherer at the end of the race, suffering his second-worst result of the season.

This means he has now dropped to second in the standings, 10 points behind Rast, although he remains five points ahead of teammate Frijns with three races still to run.

Newey finished less than a second behind in seventh, but ahead of the second-highest BMW of Timo Glock.

DTM stalwart Jamie Green bagged two championship points in ninth despite being tagged into a spin by Philipp Eng at the Turn 5 chicane on lap 11 - an offence for which the BMW driver was hit with a drive-through penalty.

Marco Wittmann rounded out the top 10 scorers, ahead of BMW stablemates Lucas Auer, Eng and Sheldon van der Linde.

Making his DTM debut for Audi Phoenix in place of Loic Duval, three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Benoit Treluyer was last of the classified finishers in 14th.

Formula 1 convert Robert Kubica (WRT) and Mike Rockenfeller were the two retirees, both pulling into the pits midway through the race with separate technical issues.

Zolder Race 1 results:

Cla Driver Car Laps Gap
1 Germany René Rast
Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 41
2 Netherlands Robin Frijns
Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 41 0.877
3 Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 41 22.790
4 South Africa Jonathan Aberdein
BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 41 26.462
5 Switzerland Fabio Scherer
Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 41 34.695
6 Switzerland Nico Müller
Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 41 35.154
7 United Kingdom Harrison Newey
Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 41 36.041
8 United Kingdom Jamie Green
Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 41 42.515
9 Germany Timo Glock
BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 41 42.982
10 Germany Marco Wittmann
BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 41 1'11.634
11 Austria Lucas Auer
BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 41 1'14.729
12 Austria Philipp Eng
BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 41 1'17.833
13 South Africa Sheldon Van Der Linde
BMW M4 Turbo DTM 2020 41 1'18.323
14 France Benoit Tréluyer
Audi RS5 Turbo DTM 2020 40 1 Lap
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Zolder DTM: Rast beats Habsburg to pole, Muller eighth
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